Hedy Nochimson, a high-tech systems analyst at Seagate for 20 years, long wanted her own business. While she was good at what she did, and certainly glad that the work had brought her to Santa Cruz, she felt like something was missing in her life. As she puts it, “It didn’t feed my soul.”
Hedy’s favorite thing to do has always been to go out and enjoy a good meal. And she’s long been fascinated with cookbooks. “I read them like novels,” she tells me over the phone. I chuckle (I do the same). So, in pursuit of her dreams, Hedy tells me that she left her lucrative career and went to her favorite restaurant, Oswald, to ask if she could stage in their kitchen. Staging is basically apprenticing with a chef for no pay (but most likely plenty of tasty food).
Chef Damani Thomas took her on, and she learned under him as well as Ben Sims, now co-owner of Bantam, who worked at Oswald at the time. She then ran into David Kinch (chef/proprietor of Manresa, which earned its third Michelin star this year) in the kitchen one day, who upon her request granted her wish to come into his kitchen and drool—I mean learn—for a month.
After about nine years of working under other chefs and soaking up all the knowledge and technique she could, Hedy started Plate & Bottle in 2013. The company’s main focus is pop-up dinners that are seasonally driven and locally sourced. They do only a small amount of catering on the side, because Hedy likes to focus all of her personal attention on the creativity of the cooking.
Their pop-ups, which occur once a quarter, are usually hosted at private residences. The idea is to present a decadent pampering experience; every person is treated with the utmost importance throughout the five-course feast. Their motto is, “You provide the bottle, we’ll provide the delicious dish.” The menus are crafted to convey a sense of time and place, transporting the diner via the senses.
The local community has played a paramount role in the lasting relationships that Hedy has forged with her business. She belongs to the Women’s Network Alliance Group. She connected with Monica Karst at one of their events, and since participated in an event with her, The Curated Feast, and Pure Pleasure called Sexy Self Love, in which she cooked up some delectable, orgasmic delights.
Hedy just got back from a month in Europe, where she travelled in Switzerland, Italy and Hungary—her parents were first generation Hungarian immigrants. So her fall feast, which is set for November 12, will surely take note of her travels.
She is also collaborating with The Curated Feast on the “Feast of the Archetypes” exploring King/Queen, Warrior, Magician, and Lover on October 27. Tickets for this edible experience, pairing each course with an archetype and narrated with a series of stories from history, literature, and myth are still available. Food for thought!
Thank you to this week’s W.o.W. sponsor: Santa Cruz Skin Solutions and Integrated Wellness.